Over winter break, so close to the holidays, the Lewis University community lost one of its fellow students, Steven Seum, who had just graduated after completing the fall semester. Steve was a fellow peer, as we shared numerous English classes together, which grew our friendship as he became a dear friend of mine. I want to dedicate this blog post to Steve and all that he has taught me, in such a short amount of time, about being someone who is patient, kind, and loving.
John Kabat-Zinn, in his mindfulness meditation book, Wherever You Go There You Are, (which I also wrote about in my previous piece) attributes a section to this idea of “loving kindness meditation.” Kabat-Zinn suggests that we resonate with one another’s sorrows because we are all interconnected. Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by changing ourselves. If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment then in a perhaps small but hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleolus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before. This benefits me and it benefits others (Kabat-Zinn 162).
Dear readers, Jet Fuel Review has established a memorial page for our dear editor Steven T. Seum with some of his work as well as tributes from his peers and professors. This is work-in-progress as we will continue to update the page with pieces about Steve from students, faculty, and others. If you have anything you’d like to say about Steve, please send it to our JFR blog editor Michael Lane and/or Simone Muench, and we will post it on this page as we are able. If you would like to donate groceries to his family, there is information at the bottom of this page for a GoFundMe organized by Steve’s brother, Michael Seum, as well as a link to a food delivery service called Meal Train created by Amber Ruland.– Simone Muench
The Chronic Appeal by Steven Seum
(Written for Dr. Jen Consilio’s Advanced Writing course)
“We are not to blame for our illness, but we are responsible for our health.”- Victoria Maxwell, BPP
Being overwhelmed by multiple, debilitating chronic health issues at any time in my life was mind-bogglingly unanticipated. My back has been sliced and diced twice (once through my back, and the second time through a six-inch opening starting at my navel and going down past my waist). I now have an artificial disc in the lumbar region of my back, I deal with chronic neuropathy, I have limited control over my right leg, and I have dealt with Crohn’s disease, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, for the past twenty-six years of my life, all at the age of thirty-eight. Unable to anticipate each day bares an undesirable burden. I am incapable of anticipating when my back will seize up, as various muscle groups compensate for the injured region, or the surgically repaired and replaced areas of my back will ache a deep ache, pulsing in time with my heart, or if I will be stuck running, no, sprinting to the bathroom because of my Crohn’s disease and the side effects which come with it (the fatigue, the vitamin deficiencies, the joint pain)—a daily routine was ruled out long ago. This is how it is for anyone dealing with anything chronic or invisible, or those close to it—our family and friends—and the side effects that come with chronic illness and the depression, the lack of routine, and the inability to live a “human” existence (the “human” existence is simply a dream I have of a life apart from this dysfunctional body of mine). There is much I would like to say, to those new to these chronic issues, which would provide a positive story or feedback of a structured regimen, but even the best of us know that the struggle for remission is an overwhelming and intimidating burden of this disease.
“As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.” – Neil Gaiman